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J Neurol. 2013 Jun;260(6):1562-8. doi: 10.1007/s00415-012-6829-3. Epub 2013 Feb 17.

The impact of neutralizing antibodies on the risk of disease worsening in interferon β-treated relapsing multiple sclerosis: a 5 year post-marketing study.

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Department of Neurosciences and Sense Organs, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124, Bari, Italy.


The impact of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) on interferon β (IFNβ) efficacy in MS patients is still an object of controversy. To evaluate the clinical response to IFNβ during NAb-positive (NAb+) and NAb-negative (NAb-) statuses on a large population of relapsing remitting (RR) MS patients were followed up to 5 years. Sera from 567 RR MS patients treated with IFNβ for 2-5 years were collected every 6-12 months and evaluated for NAb presence by a cytopathic effect assay. The relapse rate and expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score were assessed at baseline and every 6 months for each patient. A NAb+ status was defined after two consecutive positive titers of NAbs >/= 20 neutralizing units (NU)/mL. Multivariate models were used to analyze the relapse rate, the time to first relapse, the time to confirmed EDSS score 4 during NAb+ and NAb- statuses. A propensity score (PS) matching analysis was performed to assess the robustness of the multivariate models. Fourteen percent of patients became NAb+ during the follow-up. A significant increase of the relapse rate (IRR = 1.38; p = 0.0247) and decrease of the time to 1st relapse (IRR = 1.51; p = 0.0111) were found during NAb+ periods. The PS matching analysis, in a selected cohort of patients, demonstrated a negative trend of NAbs on the time to reach the milestone EDSS 4 (IRR = 2.94; p = 0.0879). This long-term post-marketing observational study further confirms that the occurrence of NAbs significantly affects the risk of disease worsening in IFNβ- treated RRMS.

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